My name is Vanessa and my friends and I need your help! Fiona really needs your help to improve the quality of her life! She has helped and loved so many people unselfishly and now we must help her back!
Our friend Fiona, "DOESN'T" always look sick, but there are many other legitimate "DOESN'Ts" in Fiona's life that are impossible to look at. This is just part of her story.
************* THE FACTS *************
Major health problems:
Her stomach DOESN'T process food properly.
-Gastroparesis: Paralysis of the stomach (She hasn’t eaten a meal since 2014!!!!! she lives on liquids which is even still difficult for her stomach to process) - More info at:
She DOESN'T swallow normally.
-Oesophagus peristalsis doesn't work: Difficulty swallowing down food to the stomach. It is paralysed so food gets stuck and choking ensues. (She has had various hospital admissions to be injected with heavy drugs to combat this.)
Her Skeleton DOESN'T have bone density.
-Severe Osteoporosis: Bones break easily (she broke a rib recently simply by sitting down!) More Info at: https://nos.org.uk/about-osteoporosis/what-is-osteoporosis/consequences-of-osteoporosis/
Her protective digestive lining DOESN'T repair.
-Chronic Oesophagitis and Gastritis: This causes 24/7 pain due to the inflammation. (She often spits up fresh blood, because it’s her flesh bleeding from the inside as ‘food’ tries to go down…) Add to that, constant nausea, regurgitation & vomiting.
This is what it's like to 'eat': please watch below:
What is it like?
When you are hungry, isn't eating something enjoyable the first thing you want to do? Perhaps even something you love? What if, not only was this basic human need taken away from you, but that you are forced to starve yourself because of the inability to swallow food and because of the extreme pain that it causes, not only on the way down, but in your stomach CONSTANTLY. When was the last time you choked on food or caught a stomach bug? Imagine that feeling every hour of your life without even eating a meal. And now add nausea and vomiting to that feeling. You literally MUST starve to stay alive! Otherwise it's an emergency hospital visit where they literally do not know how to help you! This is Gastroparesis...There is NO CURE... but there are alternative treatments available to improve the quality of her life. Please help us give a deserving one that chance.
Though many would not realise it, Fiona has always struggled with chronic health problems like severe osteoporosis, but in 2011 she began to get severe digestive problems. She went for days and even weeks without being able to eat anything!. She was desperate for relief from the chronic pain & malnutrition & so began her journey between various Gastroenterologists, diagnostic tests, alternative therapies, even a centre for digestive disorders regarded as the highest in its field. She has explored every avenue in her quest for even a small improvement to her health. It costs her thousands each year for tests, therapies & supplements, which she continues to have to do just to stay alive.
In mid 2015 her weight plummeted to 34kg (75lbs/5.35 stone- a child's weight!) which meant her body had reached a very high malnutrition score. At this point her body was failing & we feared she would die. And even though she did confess, “Why am I trying to stay alive for another day of pain tomorrow?”, she still clung to life and a search for relief. You can also read her touching answer to her own question that I asked too, at the end of my article.
It wasn’t until 2015 due to her persistence & resilience that she finally managed to find out the diagnosis of Gastroparesis. Then in 2016 after a hideous test where various tubes are passed down the nose to reach the stomach & left there for monitoring, she also was diagnosed with severe failure of her Oesophagus peristalsis. Not only is Fiona’s stomach not working but she is also in danger of choking & whatever she tries to swallow will not reach the stomach easily. Can anyone imagine having to fight down every tiny bite taken? And trying to breathe & not choke at the same time…amongst all this could you even be tasting that food?
There is no cure & little research into a cure for her condition. The best she can hope to do at present is to stay alive by whatever small amounts of nutrition she can get down & then try to keep it down. She is literally living off espresso size cup amounts of puree & small cups of broth. These do not even go or stay down easily. Anyone who spends time with Fiona will see that she is constantly in pain & can often not even talk because her own bodily stomach fluids are trying to come up. She hasn't even slept in a bed for two years as she cannot lie flat!
(The small espresso cups is the most she can intake at one time, if even! - my hand is very small FYI)
Apparently there is a gastric pacemaker that a small percentage of the population with this condition have, since it is exceedingly expensive & has low success rates. Fiona would never have the funds for this operation & to be honest her body is probably too weak for it anyway. Many people do die from this disease.
The result of not getting help is to be on a feeding tube! This is what we CAN avoid longer with continuous treatments. Fiona lives independently with no family support and she cannot live on a tube.
Hope on the Horizon? - HOW YOU CAN HELP!
In 2016 after seeing some new practitioners, Fiona decided to try intravenous infusions of various vitamins, minerals & effective gut motility drugs (because how else do you get your vitamins) & she also was given some electrical stimulation via various machines in a hope to reduce paralysis of her stomach. This was a massive cost however there was a slight improvement & Fiona managed to gain a little weight!
How happy we were! In Dec 2016 this same centre suggested a program of infusions & electrical stimulation over 4 weeks which aims to see quite a large improvement in the actual functioning of her digestive system. This is highly expensive & really out of her reach, but she has been trying to slowly save. However, she has been struggling to even pay for her supplements & regular treatments such as chiropractic & naturopathic, which help her to continue to just limp along. On top of this, she has her regular living expenses! She is having to give all the money she saved for her treatment in order to pay for so many other expenses! She needs help. Even if we could meet the target she would still need ongoing help with expenses! Every little helps :)
Some people are moved to give money by sad tragic life stories. Others are moved by how people give to others when the secret camera is recording during acts of kindness. Not everyone has the ability to make amazing facebook or online short videos to reach the heart! <3
Fiona would never blow her own trumpet and talk about the heartfelt kindness and love she has shown throughout her whole life. Neither will she tell people how sick she really is! But we will! If it means it helps her get what she needs to live another day. Where does one start?
Do the words: Abandoned as a child, abused, mistreated, forgotten or malnourished hit a nerve?
How about : Resilient, loyal, kind, thoughful, courageous and generous. - To you they may be words but Fiona embodies these words and has come out of a hard life only to help make the life of others and herself better.
Fiona is the most thoughtful person you could meet! You'd be so lucky to have her as a friend! From voluntarily helping care for a terminally ill child, to giving parts of her wage to teenagers with no supporting family to helping care for children so mothers could go to work. This just hits the tip of the type of person Fiona is.
To be honest she has literally spent 75% of her life in the pursuit of others happiness and relief, physically, emotionally & spiritually. She still helps us today and she's the one who is sick! She has no family support & anyone who knows Fiona sees that even now she is trying to shield other people from the real effects of her disease & she will often be asking “how are you?” & be providing you some comfort, small letters, small gifts and checking up on you when really she needs an immense amount of relief & comfort herself!!!
She is too precious to be left alone in a time of need. I personally know that any improvement Fiona gets in her health from this treatment, she will give back to society because she has a genuine desire to bring relief to others. It is what keeps her alive. She has always had a great spirit in her despite adversity. Please help her maintain her spirit!
(Left to right: Iara, Katrina, Fiona and me, Vanessa)
The aim isn't to glorify why Fiona deserves that you sacrifice some of your hard earned money. Fiona humbly gives the little she has and she won't tell people so if you feel moved, please help her and for 1 day sacrifice that 1 Starbucks coffee or that treat...
To whoever has ever been touched by her in their life, please touch hers. To whoever is touched by her story and beautiful heart, please touch hers.
She has been a loving sister, friend, mother, aunt and so much for people. Let's be a friend back.
We would love to give her the chance at this type of treatment since there is literally nothing that the medical profession offer to help this condition. We want to see her get back some quality of life or at least some relief from pain. We also want to see her be able to do some things she used to enjoy doing.
(She may never eat a full meal again but she will definitively keep smiling)
(Sister from another mister - Amie and Fiona)
This is why we have a need to please ask for your help so she can continue to be a groovy chick - her favourite word!
Her answer to my question ealier:
I also know that because of her strong faith in God, Fiona is not scared of death, hence I was brave enough to ask her, "So why are you trying to stay alive for another day of pain?" She told me, "because I love people, and even death is a burden to add to others."
Help her stay alive so she can keep loving others and life! She will show you back her appreciation.
Lucie - Fiona's cat would like to add:
-Here is a link to a great article in a magazine about how this part of the body works: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/awake-no3-2017-june/enteric-nervous-system-second-brain/
Reasons to keep on living!
Hope - Does it really make a difference?
- Heidi Frick
- Balancing Act
- Lisa Siopa
Organizer and beneficiary
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